Born and raised at the village called Teklehaimanot, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Girum Ermias went to Alemaya Primary School where he received his basic education. He then went to Addis Ketema and Ayer Tena High Schools for his secondary education.
Girum has worked in varieties of fields other than acting since high school completion. He used to participate in boxing when he was a teenager. During his time abroad, he began his acting career with an unexpected advertisement for an art academy called Hollywood Art Academy. Since the advertisement company was to be based in Ethiopia, it became a jumping-off point to commence his career as an actor, returning to his homeland.
When he first started his intention to study at the Hollywood Art Academy, he was more interested in writing than acting. But, over time, he has discovered that acting was also his untapped talent. Girum began his career in the film industry after finishing his studies and has been in the profession over the past 18 years.
His first film was titled ‘Hermela.’ which paved ways to advance in his career. Back in the day, before casting agencies existed, the best actors in Ethiopia were involved in theatrical art. Any film producer or director would have to visit a theater for casting purposes. He explains that Actors/actresses are said to be qualified and need to develop good qualities, including commitment, loyalty, discipline, devotion, and reading habit. If all of these requirements are met, anyone can be an excellent actor who can play a variety of character roles.
“Cinemas used to prefer to show only comedies. This had a significant impact on discouraging various professionals. One of the other issues is the scarcity of filmmaking schools that produce different filmmaking professionals.”
It is challenging to find a character, study in depth, and play well because acting is something that is outside of one’s personal behavior. He says the most difficult aspect of acting is deciding on a character to play. Reading and researching various acting roles can help in performing better.
The Ethiopian film industry was on the rise in the 1990s, with a large audience, but as time passed, its number and quality began to dwindle. “In the 1990s, many Ethiopian film professionals began to arrive from abroad, reawakening the Ethiopian film industry,” Girum says.
In the 90’s the Ethiopian movie industry was uprising and had a lot of audience, but when time goes by it started to decline in number and quality. Reason for this can be contribution of lots of factors. “Cinemas used to prefer to show only comedies. This had a significant impact on discouraging various professionals. One of the other issues is the scarcity of schools that produce professional competence.” says the actor.
One of the most recent causes is the COVID 19 pandemic, which has had a detrimental impact on the film industry. However, 2020 was a bad year for the Ethiopian film industry as the corona- virus hit hard almost all the sectors of the economy. Before the pandemic, it was usual for new films to appear almost every week. Now, production has ground almost to a halt. There are tentative signs of a slow revival now that some of the restrictions are lifted and movie theaters are opening their doors to the audience.
Another reason the actor enlightens is that the movie industry is being led by people who lack talent for the job. The movies made have a significant gap in conspiracy structure, quality of work, and flow of the movie’s history. However, when a film is made by qualified professionals, it is clear how high-quality a film can be.
“I consider success to be something that promotes the future. Because I don’t want to stop at a certain point in my career, but rather to keep doing better and more up-to-date work. This enables me to contribute as much as possible to the Ethiopian film industry.”
Every professional filmmaker must have the desire to do the best work possible on their own. This is expected to propel the Ethiopian film industry forward. “If you offer something better, there is no reason why it should not be accepted. The same thing goes true for the film industry.” Says Girum.
The most important factor in beating the international audience is opportunity. There are many professional actors and actresses in Ethiopia. The issue of incompatibility causes the Ethiopian film industry to regress.
Language is another barrier to Ethiopia’s entry into the international market. Because Ethiopia has long been an independent country, films in foreign languages are inapplicable. Unlike other African countries, Ethiopia has its own language. This could be one of the obstacles for the business entry into the international market.
Girum has won numerous awards. In 2016, he was honored by Nollywood and the African Film Critics’ Awards (NAFCA). He got an award for his performance in the film ’79,’ which was nominated for the People’s Choice Award.
He received numerous international honors in short film category. He got a short film award from the Charlie Chaplin Film Festival in Ireland. When it comes to Ethiopian awards, he has a number of them to his credit. He won the Gumma Award twice. He is a four-time winner of the Ethiopian International Film Festival and a three-time winner of the Addis Music Film Festival besides receiving the Leza Award and the Zodaic Award.
“I consider success to be something that promotes the future. Because I don’t want to stop at a certain point in my career, but rather to keep doing better and more up-to-date work. This enables me to contribute as much as possible to the Ethiopian film industry.” Says the Actor.
Every character Girum has played in his acting career has contributed significantly to his ability to be the best at what he does. He goes on to say that the first thing he does while preparing to play a character is read the script. He attempts to see the story from several perspectives and comprehend as much as possible the message the writer wishes to convey.
“I am a method actor. I try to be in the place of the character without interfering my personal life. I enjoy gym for coming back to my own personality after completing a certain character. This is one of the ways I escape my deep connection with acting” says Girum
He claims he researches specifics for the role he would play in depth after learning the tale. Such as the character’s gesture, possible personal background, even likes and dislikes. Then he observes places and individuals that are similar to the role that has been assigned to him. He then portrays the character after analyzing everything.
He elaborates that the thing he wished to change in the film industry is related to movie theft. Many skilled professionals have been impacted in this case. Causing them to in losing their money and moral to do more in their capabilities and change the film industry to a better place.